The space crunch on the print side means we're moving the DVD picks online, sorry for the convenience.
Takeshi Miike's "13 Assassins" had a nice long run at the Ritz this spring. Miike is the violence-prone Japanese "bad boy" who actually toned down his style to engage the relative formalism of the samurai genre.
It's still plenty violent, but what emerges is a surprisingly thoughtful modern look back at feudal society and restrictive honor code of the samurai, a code that simultaneously defined and doomed the culture. The story follows a group of samurai on a suicide mission to assassinate a rogue warlord whose status is protected by a doddering shogun.
Miike uses archetypes that date back to Kurosawa, and gives them his own contemporary spin. The result is often fascinating. While "Assassins" was in theaters, I got a lot of calls asking if it was subtitled. Yes, of course, but don't let that stop you. It's very much an image-driven movie. Like "Tree of Life" only with way more severed heads.